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Fish 'n' Chip blues

sheridans-fish-n-chips-spre

After England inexplicably chucked it all away against Les bleus the other night I was looking for more than just comforting words. I needed food from home and only Britain's fat, stodgey, lard-laden best would do. I needed Fish 'n' Chips. I found it in the Irish Pub - Sheridan's Irish House - at 17/13 Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1. Sheridan's menu is a boon for resident and transient lard-arsed Anglo-saxons. There's a Dublin Fry-up (Eggs, bacon, potatoes, tomato, beans, sausages and fried bread) for 80,000VD, a Farmer's Omelette (Potato, bacon and onions) for 55,000VD and then there's Fish 'n' Chips. Britain's national dish and a perennial fixture in pieman's all time tucker top ten.

The beer battered Fish 'n' Chips - actually French Fries, not real chunky Brit-chips - comes with coleslaw, tartare sauce, lemon slices and mushy peas. The fish comes in separate bites not the 'official' one fillet version. The batter is solid and quite thick. It's got a decent crunch to it, but lacks any distinctive taste. Fish and batter are the deciding factors when making quality Fish 'n' Chips and each should be bought and made with reverential care and attention. Sheridan's fish wasn't fresh on this visit.

As with every 'beer-battered' fish I've ever had, there's not a sniff of hops in the mix. I've tried making beer battered fish myself and I'm convinced it's impossible to retain any beer essence in the aftermath of a deep fat fryer fish funeral. Better just drink the stuff. The coleslaw is a mayo-heavy mess, but the Mushy peas are a 'triffic score in Brit-food-free Vietnam even if they aren't 'chip shop style'. As for the 'chips', they had been cooked earlier and re-heated.... Oh dear... that's just plain lazy. The tartare sauce was bland and lacked bite. However, the vital salt and vinegar accompaniments are on tap as are HP Sauce and Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

sheridans-amber-pint

After that slaggin' you might think I hated it - I didn't. This is good comfort food in an atmospheric, homely, traditional pub setting. It's a reasonably faithful rendition, just not a brilliant one. When it comes to your national dish you've gotta have some standards and this is just average. It wouldn't cut it on the streets of Britain, but at 85,000VD it costs the same as a small town England chippy. A pint of Amber draught is 50,000VD. The Vietnam Brewery started brewing Amber, Vietnam's first and only Irish Stout style beer, in 2003. There's less of a hoppish bitter bite to a pint of Amber than any of its Irish relatives. It's worth a snort, but it's not a patch on the dark beer at the Hoavien Brauhaus. View the business card.

In other news...

'OBAN FISH AND CHIP RESTAURANT' IS THE COD'S BOLLOCKS

rick_stein_in_oban
Photo nicked from The Oban Times

Via the power of google juice, there's mild elation in the air at pieman towers today. I discovered to my delight that Rick Stein, my favourite BBC TV Chef of late, agrees with me here that a little known chippy on the west coast of Scotland serves the world's finest Fish 'n' Chips.

Unfortunately, Oban isn't always convenient for a day trip from Saigon. The two-storey Sheridan's will have to do for comfort nosh following any further calamitous England appearances at Euro 2004. Fish 'n' Chips can also be found at Al Fresco's and The Underground. I haven't tried them yet, perhaps I should. Any top tips for a decent expat fill, belch them into the comment box.

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Comments

For you, fish and chips, for me, an American-style pizza with a thick chewy crust. Any idea where I can get one in Saigon?

There's a thick crust drought in this town. A combo of the excellent thin crust of a Quattro Formaggi pizza at Pomodoro, 79 Hai Ba Trung and the Chorizo topping from Cappuccino, 86 Bui Vien would bring some pizza satisfaction.

As it is, both need to improve their toppings and their bread base respectively. Don't bother with Annie's Pizza. Bit of a disaster in my experience.

Over the border in China the Beijing Chippy recently opened - minus mushy peas and curry sauce. Respect to Il Forno via The Food Section for pointing this one out.

I adore Rick Stein. What Saigon needs is a restaurant kitchen staffed by a Rick Stein-alike who'll do his magic with the seafood on offer at Ben Thanh and elsewhere (I do try my best but my dining table seats only 6).

Pieman, how 'bout writing up Malaysian at Satay Hut? The favorite of Petronas expats, its food compares pretty favorably with what I've sampled in KL and Penang. Don't go for atmosphere, but for the sublime curry laksa (Saturday lunch only), mee Siam, roti and anchovy-stuffed murtabak, soto ayam pedas, fish head curry (when available) and more.

Thanks for the tip. Satay Hut sounds good. The one on Mac Dinh Chi - yeah? We popped in once a year or more ago, as they were just finishing re-decorating, but it wreaked badly of paint. We couldn't stay to eat. Never went back, but will do.

As for Rick, he is the business, a real no nonsense chef. You can watch, or read, an interview with him here

Annie's Pizza is overpriced crap. The pizza is tasteless and I also tried the chicken and beef pot pies on the menu. For the price I paid, I expected it to be at least 7 or 8 inches in diameter. It was a lousy 3-4 in.

There's a pan pizza place at the newly renovated food court in Diamond Plaza. The crust is the taste and texture of thick cardboard (although my toddler liked it) and a 20 cm. pizza (large) is 180,000 VND. Highway robbery!

Hi
We maybe relocating to Beijing :O)
I make an awsome beer battered fish supper.
If I do move your invited to test :O)

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